I only found out the day before the show that Phantogram was opening forMuse at the San Diego Sports Arena the next night. Since I enjoyed their 2014 album, Voices, I made sure I arrived early to catch their full set.
I was happy that I did, as the band delivered a strong performance, both musically and visually, that centered on songs from that new album. They opened with “Nothing But Trouble” which began with a disjointed voice and guitar drone on a blackened stage and then exploded in light and sound with a pulsating riff and dramatic strobe light effects. Unlike many headliners, Muse allowed Phantogram to use enough of their stage and light system to create an impressive stage show with excellent sound to match it. Too often that is not the case, and I respect headlining bands that let their openers shine all the more for that courtesy.
Phantogram has a real throwback sound and image that favorably reminds me of the heyday of synth-pop. Back in the 1980′s groups like Depeche Mode, Erasure and Pet Shop Boys filled arenas and created the same kind of intensity with their edgy and creative pop sound.
At times I felt that Phantogram was stretching a bit to fill a venue this size but for the most part this was an exceptional showing and allowed the group to be exposed to much wider audience. I can visualize Phantogram becoming a bigger, more formidable band themselves after experiencing this type of performance.
Here is the view from my seat on a couple of songs: